Denise Grace Gitsham
FREEDOM IN THE OVERFLOW
Freedom in the Overflow
I can’t put down a book I recently picked up by Chris Gore, titled “Overflow.” It’s a daily devotional that helps readers identify areas of our lives where we aren’t living in the fullness of God’s peace, love, hope, and joy. To underline this point, the book includes writings from twelve of the sixty-five men that Chris mentors, who are each serving 50 to 500 year terms in maximum security prisons. In other words, the book
is written, in part, by the last people you’d
ever expect to have anything to say about living a life of "overflow."
The reason we’re surprised by prisoners weighing in on this topic is because those of us who are "free" struggle with it ourselves. I will never forget going to a prison in Uganda with Bob Goff, and participating in a church service there. Prisoners sang loudly and joyfully, praising God in the midst of the most destitute, overcrowded, and disgusting conditions I’ve ever seen. I was overwhelmed to the point of tears when one man - a prisoner - at the end of the service, turned and asked how he could pray for us - the wealthy, free, and soon-to-be-headed-home-to-a-life-of-luxury Americans. In that instant, I felt like we'd switched spots; he was the one living in freedom, while I was trapped in a self-imposed prison of negative, self-centered, and hopeless thinking.
That moment taught me everything I needed to know about the omnipresence of joy, and it’s ability to transcend every circumstance. Reading Chris' book simply reminded me that whoever, wherever, and however we are, an "overflow" mindset is possible. Whether we achieve it or not has less to do with our reality, and more to do with our focus. And when we focus on God - His unconditional love, His promises, and His peace - we can live in a permanent state of "overflow," whether we're in a prison or a palace.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. - St. Paul, writing while imprisoned, in Philippians 4:12-13.